Manufacturing of Oxford University and AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine started in Victoria on Monday, according to Australian media reports. The production has been started by CSL Limited Company, which will be producing millions of doses of a potential coronavirus vaccine over the next few months.
The news comes days after the county's government said that it is trying to get a vaccine to treat the deadly Covid-19 in the market by March 2021. However, the production of the vaccine doses has started even though AstraZeneca's vaccine candidate is still in the phase-three trials, the results of which won't be known until the end of the year.
A Ray of Hope
CSL Limited Company aims to produce around 30 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine in its first phase that will take about 50 days. "[The vaccine] is going to be voluntary but we will encourage as many people as possible," Health Minister Greg Hunt told 2GB on Monday. "We are confident that we will have a very high take-up amongst the Australian population," he added.
This makes Australia the latest country to start production of Astra Zeneca's Covid-19 vaccine. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, CSL has separate contracts with AstraZeneca and the Australian government for the production of the vaccine. The production of the vaccine starts at a time when it is still in the final phase of clinical trials but the Australian government sounds bullish about its success.
However, even if the third-phase trial results are positive, the vaccine will still need to get approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). While there's still a lot of modalities to be completed apart from, just producing 30 million doses of the vaccine, CSL's chief scientific officer Andrew Nash says the company is "hopeful" that the gamble will pay off.
Australia Tries to Keep Its Promise
Much like other countries, Australia has been trying to make available a vaccine to treat the coronavirus at the earliest. However, there is still no proven vaccine to cure the deadly virus. The production of AstraZeneca's much-hyped Covid-19 vaccine comes less than a week after the Australian government assured that a vaccine should be available for public by March.
"We're making this ahead of time so should the clinical trial be positive with the outcome that we're looking for ... the vaccine will be available in the short term to distribute to the population," Nash added. Although several experts and researchers believe that starting production early is a calculated risk, it is worth taking.
That said, the Australian government isn't banking on the AstraZeneca vaccine only. It is also backing the University of Queensland's protein-based vaccine as the home-grown trial of choice. It is also being supported by the international Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI).